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Hi... I've been fussing with an actual barn find and haven't gotten it to start. I'm inclined to give up. Really, all I want is something reliable to go on short jaunts and dinner dates. I can only do light mechanic work. So... What's up with the 650? Is there a Most Reliable year/type for this breed of Honda?

I used to have a Yamaha 650 Special. Seems like 650 is a good size for hauling two adults around. ? Or is the difference to the 500 not such a big deal? Does the 500 have advantages -- in reliability?

I haven't even test ridden one of these but, darn, I love how they look. They seem to have solid innovation.

Also seem a bit heavy, but whatever. I might prefer no fairing -- to KISS and a bit lighter. ? I won't be any freeway buff, really. But who knows. Maybe the freeway is not the enemy.

Thanks for your thoughts! Links also appreciated so as to not reinvent the wheel for explaining what's up w these bikes.
 

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1982 GL500i
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Hello Jeff. The GL650i is very similar to the 82 GL500i. The 150cc increase is nice and has slightly taller gearing in the tranny, but is still only 5 speed. Radiator fan is electric instead of direct drive on the camshaft. Motor internals are a little beefier. Most all of the bodywork, bags & Fairing were carried over from the 500, but it does have alluminum mag wheels instead of the Comstar wheels found on the 82 and older GLs. It may have one front fork with the anti-dive "TRAC" apparattus, but I can;t recall off the top of my head.
Honestly, I find the factory fairing to be a great asset on my 82 GL500i. As for keeping things simple, when you want it out of the it way for any front end service, it detaches quickly and easily with 8 bolts & nuts, and one large wire harness connector. The modular luggage detaches with keyed latches and can be carried like mini suitcases, all my OE design! Lots of storage space for a factory mid-sized touring bike. One of the best Honda ever did, in my opinion!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Wow, I could get factory luggage for this bike? I don't think the one I'm considering has any but are they available on the aftermarket used? they look really nice!
 

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Also different ignition on the 650 (?more reliable) to the earlier bikes like your CDI barn-find....
And an auto-cam chain tensioner on the 650 (but this is thought inferior.....in some ways..... but adjustment free)
 

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One weak point on the 650 is that the starter clutch is a little more prone to failure and the starter motor has to work harder in the 650.
 

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1978 CX500 "The Grub", 1983 GL650I "Nimbus"
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The more I ride my GL650, the more I like my CX500. Part of that is ergonomics. The tall seat on the CX Standard fits me better than the GL.
The 650 starts easily and idles quietly. It has more power, but the 500 is so smooth running. Whereas the 500 feels refined by comparison, when you give it the whip, the 650 is a bit of a brute.
The 650 will be more capable two-up, especially if you and your passenger are of larger stature, like some of us. Either GL should be more comfortable for a passenger than the CX, as it's a bit longer.
 

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'82 GL500 '83 GL650 '21 RoyalEnfield INT650
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Jeff,
Welcome aboard! In town, you don't notice much difference. The 500 has a softer suspension. They stiffened it in the 650 for performance. The 650 would be better two up and for highway speeds.
My bikes are in this video GL500, GL650 and RE Interceptor 650. The GL500 is running in the background.

I prefer non-interstate with windscreen and soft bags.

 

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'84 CX650E that is evolving into a GL500
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One significant difference between the 500 and 650 is that all CX/GL500 engines made for sale in North America came with the manual camchain tensioner adjuster while the CX/GL650 engines came with the automatic camchain tensioner adjuster.
It takes about 10 seconds to set the manual adjuster if done while you are checking the valve clearances and the manual one has much more range than the automatic one (= longer camchain life) so many of us feel that changing to the auto adjuster was a step backwards.

Also, since they made a lot more of the 500s than the 650s parts specific to the 650 can be hard to find.

Mine started life as a CX650E (the Eurosport model). It was in sad & sorry condition when I bought it to turn into a winter sidecar machine and has been slowly evolving into a GL500I over the last 15 years. The most recent part of that evolution was installing a GL500 engine.
I live in a small village surrounded by 80 Km/h (50 MPH) roads. I rarely carry passengers these days but the weight and frontal area of the sidecar are always there. The biggest differences I have found between the 650 engine and the 500 are 1) The 500's gearing is a bit lower so the engine spins a bit higher and 2) There's a bit less torque so I have to gear down when climbing some of the steeper hills at 80+ Km/h.
I don't notice any significant difference in town.
 

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Really, all I want is something reliable to go on short jaunts and dinner dates. I can only do light mechanic work.
Any vehicle 40 years old, auto or MC, will need maintenance. Maybe something newer if mechanic work isn't your thng?
 

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A 40 year old bike as per D-Fresh/ Doug will need some extra care.....but many of the maintenance items (such as re-torques/valve adjustments) could be based on mileage rather than just months/time-interval..(not oil or filters)...check the FSM for frequency
Depends how many miles you are planning to cover....if the bike is OK for a start when you but it...you can get a mechanic to do your more "complicated" work and do fluids/oil/battery/chassis re-torques etc yourself....
If you go to the FSM page you can compare maintenance for 500vs650.

Other option look for a older bike with EFI (fuel injection) and shimmed valves...require less maintenance once set up....).....1980's BMWK100/K75??
 

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1982 GL500i
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One thing I have noticed is that the GL650i has a fairing vibration that my GL500i does not, which also tends to blurr images in the fairing mounted mirrors. I believe it is due to the 650 fairing being mounted on rubber cushions of some sort, or so I have read. It is the only negative issue I have found regarding the GL650i, but still a bit annoying for me when riding it. I supposed the fairing could be remounted without the rubber? Since I don't currently have a 650 of my own to experiment with, I don't really know for sure. Has anyone else had this issue with their GL650i?
 

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'84 CX650E that is evolving into a GL500
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I would expect the rubber mounted fairing to vibrate less, assuming that the rubber is in good condition and all of the correct hardware is present and the fasteners are torqued correctly.
I've never had one that was rubber mounted but I have had the fairing rattle a bit when a nut come loose.
 

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'82 GL500 '83 GL650 '21 RoyalEnfield INT650
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I really like this bike. For camping, the power and suitability on the highway is an improvement over my GL500.
They are both great in town. I’m riding the GLs while the Interceptor is getting the sidecar mounted
Tire Wheel Land vehicle Car Vehicle
Wheel Tire Land vehicle Fuel tank Vehicle
 

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I'm also a huge fan of the gl650i. It has been at least 9 years since I rode my cx500.

In town they're both the same but on the highway 2 up the 650 beats the pants off the 500. And I even tow a little trailer behind it to camp several states away.
 

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500s are smoother. I've ridden many 500s and never had the finger tingle from vibes that I had with the 650 euro and GL700 that I rode.

The 500 is also a happier engine which doesn't have the oil control problems that 650s develop as their oil rings get slack. I've never seen a 650 clock up the ridiculous milages you see clocked up on some of the 500s.

650s also seem prone to head gasket failure which rarely afflicts 500s properly fitted with OEM head gaskets.

Then there's the issues of starter clutches in the 650s.

I like 500s. :p
 

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'82 GL500 '83 GL650 '21 RoyalEnfield INT650
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500s are smoother. I've ridden many 500s and never had the finger tingle from vibes that I had with the 650 euro and GL700 that I rode.

The 500 is also a happier engine which doesn't have the oil control problems that 650s develop as their oil rings get slack. I've never seen a 650 clock up the ridiculous milages you see clocked up on some of the 500s.

650s also seem prone to head gasket failure which rarely afflicts 500s properly fitted with OEM head gaskets.

Then there's the issues of starter clutches in the 650s.

I like 500s. :p
There aren't as many of the GL650s only made a couple years, and made the last years, so you aren't going to see as many with a lot of miles on themm. But they are beefed up, taking many clues from the Turbos.
For my needs, the 500 is a little too weak. If I keep the 500, I'll put a sidecar on it for my winter bike. It only has 8,000 miles on it. The 650 isn't as smooth as my Interceptor, but feels like it has the same power. It throbs at the stop lights. The 500 is slower and weaker. The 650 cranks slower than the 500, but the revs still remind you of riding a 2 stroke. On the 500 in town, it seems like I use engine baking as much as the brakes. . :)
 

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I prefer the 500, especially if made a little peppier. They respond well to the heads being ported. The gap between the 2 bikes performance can be narrowed - though admittedly the same mods could be applied to a 650 engine.

Engine braking on these motors is great. I actually don't often use the front brake. Rear brake and downshifting gets the job done most of the time. I used to ride trail bikes and I think this is where I picked up this habit but it works for me. At least I won't faceplant when locking the front in somebodies oil leak. :eek:

I do like the extra low down grunt from the 650 though. You need to keep the 500 screaming a bit - but they thrive on it.
 

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If only there was a "easy" way to fine tune these bikes ala chain/drive sprocket size swap....:unsure:
But not willing to negate those shaft drive advantages.....
 

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Having ridden both for many years, I love the 500s, currently a 1980 CX500D, but my 83 GL650I is equally loved. The 500 is a joy around town, I like needing to work it harder/taking the tach to it’s upper reaches. But if I’m going out on the wide open highways, or loaded up the 650 is noticeably more capable. A CX650C has the best hp to weight ratio and slightly more aggressive carbs, so perhaps that is the top of the pile if performance is most important. Had one for years too. My 500s would approach 100mph indicated, the GL650I 105 mph indicated (loaded for touring). Their close cousins, both are winners IMO.
 
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81 Gl500i 83 CX650E
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Hi Jeff,
Having been a Automatic transmission mechanic for over 40 years I can honestly tell you ,you won't find a easier motorcycle to work on. Which is why I have not replaced mine with a newer bike, that (knock on wood) they have always brought me home. Best advice I can give ,they love being riden often , like every day!
 
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